The Peninsula Panthers made statements on and off the ice this weekend with a crushing victory and a new signing.
Less than 24 hours after signing 19-year-old goalie Connor Cheyne, the Panthers beat the Kerry Park Islanders 10-1 at Panorama Recreation Centre as Josh Lingard, Tanner Wort and Riley Braun combined for 17 points. Wort and Lingard scored a hattrick while Braun added a single. Luc Pelletier, Logan Speirs and Lucas Thomson-Fiddes each added a marker.
“They are worth the price of admission,” said Pete Zubersky, general manager. “I have watched this league since 1999 and I cannot remember three guys dominate a game like these guys do. When they hit the ice, fans sit up and take notice. Something good usually happens.”
One player who likely paid greater attention, was Cheyne, the back-up for winning goalie Connor McKillop. The Panthers had added Cheyne to their roster Thursday afternoon in a move that the team promises will strengthen their goaltending.
Cheyne, a local minor hockey product, had started most of last season for the Saanich Braves, who released him in September. Due to work commitments, Cheyne had not been playing and it afforded the Cats an opportunity to pounce.
“[He] was out there and it was just a matter of time before he got the urge to play again,” said Zubersky. “We were fortunate to be able to pick him up and I believe that he can be as good as anybody in our league. I absolutely love our goaltending tandem as we head into the second half of the season.”
Head coach Brad Tippett also liked his team’s performance against the Islanders following a full week off, which he said appeared to heal some bumps and bruises as well as refuel the energy tanks.
“I thought we played with enthusiasm and purpose and did a lot of little things right,” he said. “We finally shot low, got traffic in front of their goaltender, were ready for passes, and got in position to make something positive happen. Scoring ten goals was something we talked about one minute into the game when they opened the scoring right off the opening face-off, but I thought that keeping them to that single goal was even more of an accomplishment. We will set up practice this week very similar to last week and that will include some controlled scrimmages.”
Cheyne may see his first action Friday night when the Panthers host the Islanders again at Panorama Recreation Centre with puck-drop at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers will then massive test on Sunday afternoon when they will face the Victoria Cougars on the road.
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